Sunday, March 8, 2009

Home Ec Returns

"We should learn how to balance our checkbooks, and things like that."

Comments such as this occasionally arise in my class, as students debate (and complain about) much of the core curriculum in high school. I don't know if there is any really "useless information" in the standard high school curriculum, but there is much to be said about addressing more practical issues as we invest in the education of young people. While I point out to my students that learning to balance a checkbook should take about fifteen minutes, I can imagine many basic competencies that I'd incorporate into a "life skills" curriculum, not the least of which is home finance and basic repair.

With that in mind, the Denver Post recently spotlighted a resurgence in home economics in local high schools, with the added emphasis of an increase in both male teachers and students. The classes are now referred to as Family and Consumer Science, and they are focused on being far more practical than the home ec classes of yore. As the economy changes, and more people are adjusting to lifestyle changes, the acquisition of basic skills that not only save money, but might open up a new career, seem like a good investment in education. I'd like to see an expansion of this sort of investment in education, as it strikes me as the sort of basic competencies we should expect of young adults after thirteen years of education. The ability to cook, budget, organize, create, and repair are never useless skills. This also might be a great way to adapt a workforce more quickly, especially for those jobs that don't need a four year degree. So, on with home ec and shop classes.

In the immortal words of Breakfast Club, regarding shop class:

Brian: "Bender, do you realize without calculus, there'd be no engineering."

Bender: "Without lamps, there'd be no light."


loonyhiker said...

In the high school where I taught, they had done away with home ec classes for more academic subjects. It was such a shame to see this because I really think these life skills are so important, especially for students who live in a single parent home or one where both parents are working and these skills aren't taught.

Peter Fogarty said...

As the school curriculum gets more and more filled - schools have less and less time to teach practical skills - this gets more complex in International School as the practical skills needed by different cultures.

Less and less time is spent at home on practical tasks as Internet kicks in.